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Administrative law

Administrative law
Isometric illustration of law and legal documents, depicting the complexity and intricacy of the legal system.
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This step examines the role of administrative law in regulating online abuse in sport and provides examples of relevant government agencies and regulators.

Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities, powers, and procedures of administrative agencies of government. It involves the oversight of governmental agencies, commissions, and boards to ensure they act within their statutory boundaries.

Administrative law covers a wide range of functions, including rule-making (the creation of regulations), enforcement of these regulations, and adjudication (resolving disputes and making decisions). In this way, it not only governs the actions and decisions of government agencies but provides mechanisms for the review of those actions. It can play a crucial role in regulating online abuse in sports by overseeing the enforcement of laws and regulations that platforms, individuals and other third parties must adhere to.

Regulators can leverage administrative law to combat online abuse in sports by developing and enforcing clear regulations for online conduct, holding platforms accountable, collaborating with technology companies on best practices, raising public awareness, providing legal and administrative remedies, and continuously monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of these measures.

A wide range of government agencies and regulators play a role in combating online abuse in sports. These include communications and media regulators such as Ofcom in the UK and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US and data protection commissioners e.g., the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK. In some cases, governments have established specific agencies to coordinate and develop sport e.g., Sport Ireland in Ireland. In the UK, the government recently introduced legislation to create an independent regulator for elite football.

Regulators are being given increasing powers to regulate internet intermediaries and platforms. For example, in the EU, new regulations have been introduced under the Digital Services Act (DSA) to regulate online intermediaries and platforms including social networks and content-sharing platforms. It introduces specific measures relating to combating the distribution of illegal content through such intermediaries and platforms. Similarly, in the UK, the recent Online Safety Act 2023 introduces new powers for Ofcom to regulate certain types of user-to-user services. The Online Safety Act introduces a duty of care for regulated services to take action to protect individuals from illegal or legal but “harmful” content on their services. The regulators can block access to websites and search engines providing links to such websites and fine services who fail to do so up to £18 million or 10% of their annual turnover, whichever is higher. It also empowers Ofcom to block access to particular websites. Under the EU Digital Services Act, very large online platforms, those with more than 45 million users per month in the EU, may be subject to fines of up to 6% of global annual turnover for failure to comply in certain circumstances.

Individuals or other entities can also leverage administrative law in a variety of ways to combat online abuse in sports. This includes:

  • Filing complaints with regulatory agencies – If the online abuse involves unauthorised use or sharing of personal information, individuals can file complaints with data protection authorities who can investigate privacy violations and impose fines or other penalties on perpetrators. Similarly, if the online abuse involves fraud, spam, unwanted calls, emails and texts, and an abuse of communications, individuals can report complaints to the communications regulator.
  • Engaging with regulators to regulate platforms – Individuals can engage with regulators by reporting incidents or complaints to regulators and in some cases seek compensation. For example, under the DSA users can seek compensation from providers of intermediary services for any damage or loss suffered due to an infringement of the DSA by such provider.
  • Seeking judicial review – If a regulatory agency fails to act on a legitimate complaint or does not enforce existing laws adequately, individuals may seek judicial review of the agency’s action or inaction, challenging it in court.
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Online Abuse in Sport

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